The season opener picks up right where the finale left off -- with Michael standing in the middle of the chaotic Sona prison courtyard, pop-eyed with terror. Who can blame the guy? Sona is such a wretched hive of scum and villainy, the law has cleared out and let the inmates run the penitentiary. As a result, they settle their differences by throwing chicken feet at one another, then brawling to the death.
It doesn't take long before Michael's bad situation gets a little worse: not only is he in this hellhole, but he's attracted the attention of the drug kingpin who runs it. Lechero is a powerful dude whose weakness is...being jealous of Michael? Yeah, I don't get it either, but Lechero quizzes a local hooker with an "Is he prettier than I am? Be honest, I won't be mad" conversation and gets miffy when she's like, "I wouldn't kick him out of bed for eating crackers." To cover up his conflicted man-crush, Lechero decides that Michael is too charismatic to live, then sets up Michael for a chicken-foot battle to the death. Bear in mind that in the twenty-four hours Michael's been in Sona, he has spent most of his time trying not to be noticed or trying not to bang his head against the wall as he realizes he's trapped in this hellhole with three of his least favorite people on the planet, but whatever. Quiet panic is the new charisma!
We all knew Mahone and Bellick were in Sona, but T-Bag has now shown up too, looking remarkably fresh for a man who spent the season finale being pinned to a cabin floor with a big knife. Mahone's worst problem in Sona is that he's going through a raging case of withdrawal (one can only hope we get treated to an episode where we see him hallucinating bats flying out of Lechero's head) but Bellick has basically become the low man on the totem pole. It is like karma has been saving up for this moment for two seasons or something.
Anyway...Michael is facing death by chicken-foot-throwing thug when Mahone comes to the rescue not once but twice. First, he gives Michael some handy advice on fighting dirty. Second, he darts in and kills the guy when he realizes that Scofield can't -- or won't -- bring himself to do it. It was an awesome scene, and I can't wait to see how Michael and Mahone continue to interact.
Over the course of the episode, Linc tries to get Michael thrown into a nicer Panamanian prison. However, he learns that Michael's in there for a reason, and the episode ends with Linc delivering The One World Conspiracy's threat to Michael: either Michael breaks out one of the conspiracy goons who's currently incarcerated in Sona, or both L.J. and Dr. Sara get killed. Michael has a week to do it.
And then, when the episode is over, I scream at my TV, "Game on! GAME MOTHERF***ING ON!" Because seriously, what a great set-up for the season. Except if you're Michael, that is.
Previously on Prison Break: We met FBI agent Alexander Mahone, who turned out to have a few skeletons in the closet and one buried under his birdbath. Consequently, the One World Conspiracy leaned on him to hunt down and kill the scattered members of Team Escarpara. His final score: three kills, one unsuccessful attempt, and four not-at-alls. The unsuccessful attempt, C-Note, is now living happily ever after thanks to a sweetheart deal in the witness protection program. T-Bag is currently languishing in some wretched little prison. Sucre is currently languishing in the gutter thanks to his ill-fated attempts to find the girlfriend that Bellick kidnapped. Linc is currently running around, looking for Dr. Sara. And Michael is now in Sona, a prison that makes the Oswald State Penitentiary look like the Red Door Spa.
So of course it makes total sense that we begin the episode with a woman we have never seen before. It's a brunette with striking blue eyes, doing her toilette at a vanity somewhere. We see that she's got a few deep scratches on one side of her face...
...And then finally, we get to Michael. He's still where we left him back in April: frozen in place at the edge of a courtyard in Sona. It's pouring rain and there are tons of wet, brawny men hollering. So, you know it's either a prison or the locker room after a WWE show. Michael looks around and notices Mahone standing at the edge of the crowd. Then his attention is grabbed by the goings-on at the center of the prison courtyard. There are two mesomorphic guys with serious anger-management issues, and one has apparently goaded the other into fighting by waving around a dried-up chicken's foot. A brutal bout commences. Michael looks stunned.
As does the American who's talking to Linc as they hurtle down the stairs in what is presumably the plushy American embassy. Linc is protesting that the consul has to get Michael the American citizen out of the Panamanian jail. The guy is all, "Hey, I feel you, but I'm a night clerk. My job is to speak English at panicky expatriates and tourists to lull them into a false sense of relief, then tell them their emergency has to wait until morning." Linc takes this surprisingly well. Feeling expansive because he's just delivered bad news and managed to keep all his parts intact, the night clerk decides to make small talk and find out where the Panamanians have stashed Michael. When Linc tells him "Sona," the clerk makes the lemon face and intones gravely, "The worst of the worst are there. Men no other prison will take. They rioted so badly a year ago, the guards just pulled out and left them to themselves. A thousand thieves, rapists, murderers..." He does not add, "And your sissy college-boy brother's in there with them. Have fun stewing on that until morning!"